BACKGROUND: Occlusions of intravenous (IV) tubing can prevent vital and time-critical medication or solutions from being delivered into the bloodstream of patients receiving IV therapy. At low flow rates (≤ 1 ml/h) the alarm delay (time to an alert to the user) can be up to 2 h using conventional pressure threshold algorithms. In order to reduce alarm delays we developed and evaluated the performance of two new real-time occlusion detection algorithms and one co-occlusion detector that determines the correlation in trends in pressure changes for multiple pumps.
METHODS: Bench-tested experimental runs were recorded in triplicate at rates of 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 ml/h. Each run consisted of 10 min of non-occluded infusion followed by a period of occluded infusion of 10 min or until a conventional occlusion alarm at 400 mmHg occurred. The first algorithm based on binary logistic regression attempts to detect occlusions based on the pump's administration rate Q(t) and pressure sensor readings P(t). The second algorithm continuously monitored whether the actual variation in the pressure exceeded a threshold of 2 standard deviations (SD) above the baseline pressure. When a pump detected an occlusion using the SD algorithm, a third algorithm correlated the pressures of multiple pumps to detect the presence of a shared occlusion. The algorithms were evaluated using 6 bench-tested baseline single-pump occlusion scenarios, 9 single-pump validation scenarios and 7 multi-pump co-occlusion scenarios (i.e. with flow rates of 1 + 1, 1 + 2, 1 + 4, 1 + 8, 1 + 16, and 1 + 32 ml/h respectively). Alarm delay was the primary performance measure.
RESULTS: In the baseline single-pump occlusion scenarios, the overall mean ± SD alarm delay of the regression and SD algorithms were 1.8 ± 0.8 min and 0.4 ± 0.2 min, respectively. Compared to the delay of the conventional alarm this corresponds to a mean time reduction of 76% (P = 0.003) and 95% (P = 0.001), respectively. In the validation scenarios the overall mean ± SD alarm delay of the regression and SD algorithms were respectively 1.8 ± 1.6 min and 0.3 ± 0.2 min, corresponding to a mean time reduction of 77% and 95%. In the multi-pump scenarios a correlation > 0.8 between multiple pump pressures after initial occlusion detection by the SD algorithm had a mean ± SD alarm delay of 0.4 ± 0.2 min. In 2 out of the 9 validation scenarios an occlusion was not detected by the regression algorithm before a conventional occlusion alarm occurred. Otherwise no occlusions were missed.
CONCLUSIONS: In single pumps, both the regression and SD algorithm considerably reduced alarm delay compared to conventional pressure limit-based detection. The SD algorithm appeared to be more robust than the regression algorithm. For multiple pumps the correlation algorithm reliably detected co-occlusions. The latter may be used to localize the segment of tubing in which the occlusion occurs.